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Thread: Massive size difference - Can I put the babies together or is it dangerous?

  1. #1
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    Default Massive size difference - Can I put the babies together or is it dangerous?

    Hi everyone, I'm Frank! My fiancee Chrissy and I are both rehabbers from Queens, NY.

    We've had a group of 4 we're rehabbing for a few weeks now and they're doing great. They're about 7 weeks now and huge. They're two females and two males ranging in size from about 170 grams to about 210 grams. Very rambunctious and love play fighting and roughhousing when they aren't sleeping the other 18 hours.

    This past Saturday I got an emergency call from someone in my neighborhood, about 5 minutes away who had found an abandoned baby lying at the base of her tree, who had been crying for about 4 hours. The woman thought the mother would come get her, but most likely she was abandoned. There was a nest in the tree, and I inspected it and found it to be empty so most likely the mother moved the babies and left this one behind. Either the baby fell out of the empty nest or wandered out in desperation.

    The baby had one eye open and was very tiny - which I'm wondering if that's why the mother abandoned her. When I got her home, she weighed in at 71 grams! In contrast, the other 4 babies I have here weighted about 117-140 grams by the time they opened their eyes the previous week. She was lethargic and bony / skeletal. We put her on Ringer's for the first 24 hours, every hour, then over the next day and the half introduced diluted formula, altering the dilution each feeding until she was at full strength formula.

    She's doing amazing! It's now about 5 days since we got her, she's opened the other eye, has gotten a very healthy appetite, is extremely playful and loves to hop! She's up to 93 grams as of this morning. We named her Renée, which is French for "Reborn".

    Anyway, just based on her playfulness and how active she's become, it would really be best to move her over to general population.
    She needs some friends. I haven't had a situation like this before where I had a squirrel who was so tiny for her age though. At the moment, the other 4 are easily twice her weight, and twice her size even though they're only about a week older.

    I've tried introducing her with brief, supervised visits and they're very non-aggressive towards her. They notice someone new in the cage, sniff her, then fall over and go back to sleep. But the big fear I have is how rambunctious they are. I fear that they might easily injure Renée during play fighting or jumping on top of her due to her tiny size.

    Am I just being an overprotective daddy? Or should I wait until Renée gets bigger? They're going to be overwintered before they're released so I have some time. I just feel bad seeing how playful Renée is and it kills me to have her alone. At the moment I leave extra time after her feeding to play with her until she collapses and goes to sleep but there's only so much I can teach her about being a squirrel.

    Thanks everyone!
    Frank

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Massive size difference - Can I put the babies together or is it dangerous?

    Hi Frank,

    Welcome to TSB:

    Your 7 week olds are on the cusp of not accepting a newbie. I don’t usually put them in with each other after 8 weeks. But because of the number in this litter and the condition of your new arrival I would not risk putting her in with the big guys. It could go well enough at first, but that is five squirrels being overwintered in one cage.

    I have taken the most gentle out of a group of four and put with a small Singleton and that worked, or you could get one more in that is a similar size, but no way would I put the small baby in with a larger group of four.

    Hope that helps!
    redwuff
    State Licensed
    Master Wildlife Rehabilitator

  3. 3 TSBers pass along the fuzzy thanks to redwuff:

    gunpackingrandma (09-05-2019), Spanky (09-05-2019), TubeDriver (09-05-2019)

  4. #3
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    Default Re: Massive size difference - Can I put the babies together or is it dangerous?

    Hi Frank! I'll leave the advice to the pros, but just wanted to say hello from a fellow squirrel person in Queens!
    -Marie

  5. Serious fuzzy thank you's to Mialouise from:

    ionian (09-10-2019)

  6. #4
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    Default Re: Massive size difference - Can I put the babies together or is it dangerous?

    Just checking back in - sorry for disappearing but as you know trying to balance life and baby squirrels doesn't leave much time for anything else!

    Redwuff - thank you for your advice and experience. In the time between when I posted the question and someone finally answered, I had already attempted to integrate her into the other cage if only because while waiting for an answer it kind of broke my heart how playful she was being but she was alone and isolated in a smaller cage with a bunch of t-shirts and some rodent blocks.

    I did integrate her slowly and under (very close) observation, as in the cage was open and my hands were half in the cage to remove her immediately if things went pear shaped, as she approached the sleeping huddle. To clarify the sleeping situation - I have a number of cute, knit "nests" hanging suspended from the top of the cage - enough to hold one squirrel each. I also have an old, knit beanie in the cage for them to use as a cozy. This particular group seemed to fall in love with the beanie and ever since I have transitioned them to the big cage, they all insist on sleeping in the hat as a huddle.

    They all seemed to wake one at a time, sniff her from head to toe, and then just fall backwards on their backs and go back to sleep immediately. It was almost comical. They didn't seem the least bit bothered. She did climb up to one of the sky-nests hanging and ball up in one and go to sleep so I wondered if she preferred to be alone.

    I stayed close by, doing work one room over so I could hear any crying and when I checked on her an hour later, she apparently at some point left the little sky nest and ended up in the hat cozy with the other 4, sleeping in the huddle.

    And ever since this post, all 5 of them have occupied the hat. Well, half occupied because trying to fit all 5 of them is impossible so they're always either half in with their lower halves sticking out, or 4 are in, the 5th climbs in and pushes one out, and this can go on for a hour

    But they seemed to accept her readily and for the past 5 days not only do they all play-fight together (and half the time it's her instigating it - so much for me being worried about her size) but they hang out together on the various ropes and toys, eat together, and I have seen one male, Chester, take a particular liking to her and when they sleep on top of each other in the hat, he'll hug her while she's sleeping. She does want her privacy once in a while and will go up to a sky nest to get away, but she will poke her head out and I've seen Chester go under the nest and stand up on his hind legs and she'll hang her head down and they'll bump noses.

    So even though there was a risk, and in the future I will consider your advice Redwuff, thankfully in this situation it seemed to work out when I had moved her over before you responded.

    I just want to clarify some things that weren't clear from my post - I am partnered with a nature center and when it comes to overwintering and releasing, ultimately I let them handle all my releases as they have an excellent setup for squirrels that includes two large outdoor release cages that are about 7 ft high each, replete with hammocks and nest boxes, and an excellent, multi level indoor cage, also with hammocks. The indoor cage and the two outdoor cages are all interconnected with tunnels so that all winter the squirrels have the option of staying inside, or going outside to get some fresh air and sunshine at their desire. The exits to the outside world on the release cages are blocked all winter and come spring, the exits are opened and the squirrels are soft-released. They are given food and water every day until ultimately they choose when they don't want to return to the release cages. So I wasn't entirely clear in that they are being overwintered but not entirely at my place. I tend to rehabilitate them about 2 or 3 months and by that point they really need the bigger cages and space. Even though my cage is a decent size, it can't compete with the nature center's setup and the babies deserve the space to grow and explore. Once a group falls between 250-300 grams, we bring them over to the nature center.

    Also, where I live in Queens, it's not a very good place to release them. Very few trees and lots of cats. The nature center is located on some heavily forested land deep in Long Island which provided a better and safer environment for them. The nature center also has a ton of nest boxes on nearby trees so that it'll help the babies transition to living independently.

    As for little Renee, when Chrissy and I rescued her on 8/31 she was 71 grams. As of this morning (9/10) she's up to 129 grams! She's doing great!

    Anyway, sorry for all the rambling! Long story short, I had integrated her before you responded, but it seems to have worked out and they're all one, happy family at the moment!

    Thanks,
    Frank

  7. #5
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    Default Re: Massive size difference - Can I put the babies together or is it dangerous?

    Quote Originally Posted by Mialouise View Post
    Hi Frank! I'll leave the advice to the pros, but just wanted to say hello from a fellow squirrel person in Queens!
    -Marie
    Hi Marie!!! Thanks for saying Hello! I know there's not a lot of us here so it's nice to meet another!

  8. Serious fuzzy thank you's to ionian from:

    Mialouise (09-10-2019)

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